November 15, 2013

Max Bell knows who killed Harry Crumb.

The opening track from Ka’s The Night’s Gambit, “You Know It’s About” sets the tone for the entire record, grounds it in gritty limestone and grout. Ominous guitar chords and thundering, driving drums paint the Brownsville underbelly in the bleakest of blacks, whites, and grays. The sound is steady and sinister, unrelenting. Against this backdrop Ka emerges to couch avowals of iron mic supremacy and harrowing hustle in metaphors fraught with calculated menace:

Recruit a hard shooting guard, stay on point
They come for dinner it’s a front and center display, long joint
Keep your wolf tickets, only cowards bought it
Here apes flex, you take steps and power forward

The fifth black and white video Ka’s shot for this album, “You Know It’s About”  is the most basic, the most raw of them all. Here Ka raps at night and alone — alone in the park, in the car, and on the corner. That’s it, and that’s all it needs to be. This is really how I’ve always thought of Ka — looking directly at me and rhyming from a distance, a purposeful remove. And this how I’ve always listened to his music, in moments of tense, solitary twilight brooding. It’s strangely cathartic to know he feels the same way.

The takeaway is that both the song and accompanying video re-illustrate something Ka fans have known from day one, something that need be restated here: Ka is an auteur. He writes, rhymes, produces, directs, edits, etc. With his art unhindered by label politics or financial obligations, he remains uncompromising in the presentation of his singular vision. The only person Ka aims to satisfy is himself. Somehow, I doubt he’s unsatisfied with one second of audio or video.

The other videos from The Night’s Gambit are below the jump. The album will undoubtedly make the Passion year end best albums list. Why? The best answer comes from the sample at the end of “You Know It’s About”: emotional content.


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